Arianespace, the European launch services company, is organising a contest in conjunction with the VivaTech international innovation show. First prize will be a spot on a rideshare mission operated by Arianespace, to orbit the winning cubesat-sized satellite. Participating teams will try to convince the members of the Arianespace jury by presenting the potential applications of their entry. Projects will be judged on their ability to improve life on Earth or advance human knowledge. Other selection criteria include the satellite design, which has to be compatible with a rideshare mission (deployment platform, one standard unit, UA, in size and weight, etc.), and eco-responsibility.
Participants (start-ups, labs, universities) have until May 14 to submit their projects. Arianespace will choose five finalists, with the winner to be announced at the award ceremony on 16 June 2021 during the opening day of VivaTech. Arianespace will also take advantage of VivaTech to unveil its new rideshare solution and innovative commercial proposals for the small satellite market (excluding large constellations, which will mainly be launched on Ariane 6). This solution includes the launch services SSMS (Small Spacecraft Mission Service) on Vega and Vega C, and MLS (Multi-Launch Service) on Ariane 6.
SSMS, a project supported by the European space industry, was used for the first time by Arianespace in September 2020, on a Vega rocket. Funded by the European Space Agency (ESA) and supported by the European Union within the scope of the Horizon 2020 program, the SSMS structure was developed by Avio, prime contractor for Vega, and manufactured by the Czech company SAB Aerospace. This service will soon be joined by MLS, a similar solution, but designed for Ariane 6, enabling Arianespace to provide smallsats with a large choice of affordable launch opportunities.